July 23, 2014

In the Veggie Garden

I thought I'd show you how the vegetable garden is doing. After getting a late start this year - several late frosts, a broken tiller, realizing we had to fence the garden against our dogs - it's finally starting to look pretty good.

I've mulched the paths between the beds with paper feed sacks and cardboard, topped with old hay. It's doing a decent job of keeping weeds down in the pathways, although I need to add another layer now that it has been packed down over time. The veggie beds themselves are not mulched, and I do have to weed those quite often. I've said before that this must be the best stand of bermuda grass we have on the whole place. It's a never-ending chore keeping those runners and roots under control.

After I officially gave up on the carrot seeds I'd planted a month earlier, they finally began to sprout. A week later I counted ten tiny little carrot plants, from two packets of carrot seeds. A week after that I was weeding and couldn't find a single carrot seedling. I wonder if the grasshoppers ate them, or if something else is responsible. I am officially giving up on carrots, at least for this year. I'm going to plant turnips in the empty bed.

The grasshoppers feasted on the beans. I planted three kinds: yellow bush beans, kidney beans, and green beans. They looked so good for awhile and each plant had 4-6 leaves, then they ceased to exist. I guess beans were my catch crop this year - planted to feed the grasshoppers so they'd leave the other plants alone, at least for awhile.

Yellow pear tomatoes, a cherry tomato variety

Sixteen tomato plants have survived and thrived. For the two of us, that will be plenty of tomatoes to eat fresh and to can. There are oroma paste, yellow pear, homestead, mortgage lifter and one remaining Arkansas traveler. They are all loaded with fruit, with the exception of the Arkansas traveler which is weeks behind the others in development. I picked the first ripe tomatoes two weeks ago. The oroma paste tomatoes are fighting blossom end rot, so I've been amending the soil around those plants.

Homestead tomatoes

I found a huge tomato horn worm on one of the homestead plants the other day. I dropped it into the chicken run and watched Samson the rooster slurp it up.

Mortgage Lifter tomatoes

There are onions planted between the tomato plants and pepper plants, as well as the white onion bed in the garden, and yellow and purple onions in galvanized tubs. The tops of the white onion plants in the garden have been eaten off. I thought the culprit was a rabbit or a squirrel, but one hot afternoon I was outside and realized that the onion tops were covered with grasshoppers. I could put flour or whatever on the onion-tops, but then the grasshoppers might simply move and attack the leaves of other plants. Onions can grow with bitten-off tops, I think; so far they're doing ok.

I also planted four kinds of peppers: jepeto sweet peppers, bell, one paprika, and one cayenne. The rest of the cayenne and paprika plants were victims of the nibbling dog, and I was lucky to save one plant of each kind.

This is the cayenne pepper plant. There is a little light-green pepper right in the center, and several other flowers as well. The white on the leaves is flour to deter the grasshoppers. I am still looking for a better solution to the invasion, but this has worked to a point.

All of the peppers have flowers on them, there are several green peppers, and there's a sweet pepper ready to pick.

The beets are growing well. Canned beets and Harvard beets are in our future. I planted more seeds in the places that the first seeds didn't sprout.

I planted sunflower seeds; some of them sprouted but they too have disappeared under the grasshoppers' onslaught. This is a huge plant that I transplanted into the garden when it was about three feet tall, now it towers way over my head. My guess is that it's nine or ten feet tall now. I love the cheery flowers. This isn't a variety that is grown for food, it's just a wild sunflower. My goats would sure love to eat the big plant if I'd let them though.

The lettuce and yellow and purple onions were planted in tubs near the herb garden. The lettuce is finished and I harvested it all last month, and am deciding what to plant in that space next. There was a volunteer purple basil plant growing with the onions but the grasshoppers devoured that too.

My germination rate was very poor this year. I'm hoping to carve out more space in the house to start seedlings next spring, both to get a jump on the season and to get around the poor germination rate. A greenhouse is on my wish list, but I know it won't happen soon - and maybe what I need instead is a screen house to keep grasshoppers out. I'm also planning to use floating row covers over the tender crops as grasshopper-prevention.

How does your garden grow?

You might also enjoy:
The New Herb Garden
The Herb Garden in June
The Herb Garden in July
The Herb Garden in August

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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  1. Great minds think alike! I did a garden post too! dancingearthworms.blogspot.com . :) I'm about ready to put a post up on my facebook page for my friends to relocate any of their spiders to my garden...I've just started noticing grasshoppers on my pepper and cucumber plants. Not a happy sight!!! Why can't they just feast on the GRASS, eh? I've got plenty of Bermuda they'd be more than welcome to have...

  2. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead9:44 AM

    I wholeheartedly agree with you, Rose! Why can't they eat the weeds and grass and leave my food alone?? I'm headed over to read your post...

  3. Oh dear, Kathi! I am so sorry to hear you've had trouble with the grasshoppers this year...how demoralising for you!

    Last year we had terrible problems with pumpkin fly - we weren't able to harvest any squash or melon and even our tomatoes were attacked:( it was really hard to get over that...

    Now I'm busy starting my seeds off inside - just one more month of winter left:). Hope you're having a wonderful week!

    From a young homesteader,

  4. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead7:09 AM

    I haven't heard of pumpkin fly before, Kelly-Anne, I'll have to look that one up. Thank you so much for visiting and for leaving a comment. I hope your seedlings are growing well and looking forward to spring.

  5. Anonymous7:33 AM

    I have been dusting my plants with food grade diatomaceous earth. Before dusting my plants the grasshoppers were eating more from my garden than I was. It really does seem to help.

  6. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead8:48 AM

    Thanks - I've heard several people recommend it and it's nice to hear another success story. My last bag was ruined by wet, so I need to go pick up another one.

  7. The more blog posts I read the more I realize that I am not the only one having less of a harvest than hoped. Best of luck with the rest of the growing season - at least your tomatoes are doing well. Love the metal planters for your lettuce!

  8. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead10:32 AM

    I feel the same way, Sarah, at least I'm not the only one!

  9. So sorry the grasshoppers are taking over there too! They are pesky little critters. I guess the roosters don't eat them?

    Your garden looks quite successful. We are in our lull period until fall crops go in next month. Enjoy the harvest!

  10. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead12:33 PM

    Thank you, Daisy. What has survived the grasshoppers so far is growing very well, however I lost all the carrots and 3 kinds of beans, total fail.

    I can't let my poultry free range due to coyotes, so they can't help me in the garden.


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